Sweet Seventeen

California's primary could be a little more democratic



Senator Bernie Sanders is the most popular candidate among young voters

In twenty-two states, seventeen-year-old citizens can vote in primaries, provided that they will be eighteen by the general election in November.  California is not one of those states.

Of course, this election differs substantially from previous years.  Many would argue that there are no strong Republican candidates.  Rubio and Kasich are on the path to dropping out, and Trump’s ideas are just frightening.  The Republican debates lack substantial dialogue as well.  Most of the debate is about jokes rather than national issues.  The Democratic side has a little more substance.  Young people are likely to stand with the liberal Bernie Sanders, although Hillary Clinton has the majority of votes overall.

As the primaries and caucuses continue and candidates drop out of the race, Californians are paying more and more attention to who is likely to win their party’s nomination.  California votes last because it has the largest population, so by then, we already know what citizens of other states have to say.  This stage of the race is crucial for voters.

The purpose of the primary is for voters to have a say in who they wish to see on the ballot in November.  Everyone who will vote in the general election has the opportunity to vote in the primaries – except for seventeen-year-olds.

This is perhaps the least democratic feature of the California primary.  For these voters, the primary has no meaning because they do not have a say in who will win their party’s nomination.  When autumn rolls around, they will be stuck with whichever candidate their party picked, and they have absolutely no say in the matter.

As someone who will not turn eighteen until late July, I believe this policy should be changed.  It is completely unfair to ban people who can vote in the general election from having a say in how that election will take place.  This policy shouldn’t be enacted in just California; it should be enacted across the country.  If a group of people has the right to vote in one state, it should have the right to vote in the other forty-nine states as well.

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